Barclays Executives Said to Face FCA Interviews in Staley Probe

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority is setting up interviews with Barclays Plc executives as part of its investigation into Jes Staley’s attempts to unmask a whistle-blower, according to three people with knowledge of the requests.

The FCA is planning to interview officials including Mike Ashley, the board member who supervises whistle-blowing complaints and Chief Operating Officer Paul Compton, in addition to Staley, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the requests were private. The meetings, which will start this summer, will go over the events leading up to the whistle-blowing controversy.

Barclays reprimanded Staley in April after discovering he’d tried to identify a whistle-blower, even after colleagues said it was inappropriate. The CEO may forfeit his 1.3 million-pound ($1.7 million) bonus and could lose his job if regulators deem him unfit to run a financial institution in light of his conduct. The whistle-blower allegations related to the bank’s hiring of one of Staley’s former JPMorgan Chase & Co. colleagues, Tim Main.

The FCA has also asked to speak with former company secretary Lawrence Dickinson, Staley’s chief of staff, Timothy Karpoff, head of compliance Mike Roemer and Troels Oerting, head of the group information security team Staley tasked with identifying the author of the letters, the people said.

Officials at London-based Barclays and the FCA declined to comment. The bank didn’t make any of the individuals facing interviews available to Bloomberg News.

The FCA investigation will probably be completed later this year, said one of the people. The requests follow some early conversations had with a select group of executives after the issue was initially disclosed, another person said.

Wider Probe

The regulatory probe will be wider than the board’s own investigation and scrutinize the actions of other individuals, including the person who gave the whistle-blower’s letter to Staley, one of the people said. The FCA will ask about the timeline of events surrounding Staley’s attempts to unmask the whistle-blower, as well as the bank’s anonymity protocols.

The FCA has placed an increasing emphasis on the importance of internal complaints, requiring firms to nominate an individual to the role of "whistle-blowers’ champion" under a senior accountability program introduced last year.

The controversy dates back to June 2016, when Barclays’ board received an anonymous letter raising concerns about Main’s recruitment. The letters flagged issues of a personal nature about him and Staley’s role in dealing with those concerns at JPMorgan.

A senior executive also received a second, similar letter. That executive was Joe McGrath, Barclays’ global head of banking and CEO of the Americas, two of the people said.

After learning about the letters, Staley made two attempts to discover who wrote them, despite being informed that it was inappropriate for him to do so after his first try. The second attempt was made after he thought the matter had been resolved.

‘Honestly, Mistakenly’

Barclays said in April the board thought Staley "honestly, but mistakenly, believed" his actions were permitted.

The whistle-blower scandal is not the only area Barclays is facing regulatory scrutiny. The U.K. Serious Fraud Office also charged the bank and four of its former executives last week with conspiracy to commit fraud related to its 2008 capital raising from Qatar.